It has been a blast writing Interesting Akron over the past few years. I have learned a lot about blogging and my hometown. Unfortunately I haven’t had much time to write new entries and I have several new projects that I would like to complete over the next few months. Hopefully one day I will return to this blog again. Until then, thank you for reading and please do what you can to keep Akron interesting!
Come celebrate with us as we (Interesting Akron) receive the award for Best Local Blog from Akron Life Magazine.
When: August 25 at 11 a.m.
Where: Summit Mall, Akron, OH
Check out Akron Life’s Web site for more info.
Very few small cities have their own fantasy games, which is what makes Omegakron one of the ultimate Akron-related collectable oddities.
Ohio native Tom Moldvay cut his teeth in the role-playing game industry in the early 1980s by developing guides for Dungeons and Dragons as well as smaller adventure modules such as Gangbusters and Star Frontiers. One of his most personal stand-alone series—and what some consider his most detailed work—was the Avon Hill game Lords of Creation. Originally released in 1983, the game had three modules created by Moldvay, the final of the series being Omegakron.
Set in the city of Akron 200 years after a nuclear disaster, players must navigate the urban rustbelt terrain; fight street gangs, mutants, and cyborgs; and eventually find their way back two centuries into the past.
The game isn’t set in a fictional Akron; it is entirely based on the actual buildings, layout, and even the very real history of the city. The cover artwork and interior booklet feature many of Akron’s most recognizable landmarks, including the PNC Center, the First Merit Building, St. Bernards, Glendale Cemetery, and more. The game includes a map of the city, a history written by Moldvay, a detailed game booklet, and character stat sheets.
You can read more about Omegakron’s plot and gameplay on the blog A Paladin In Citadel.
After several years of game design, Moldvay fell ill and returned to Akron to be near his family. Although he passed away on March 9, 2007 at the age of 58, he left a legacy of games as well as many incomplete projects that may eventually see the light of day.
In 2012 Akron musician Joseph Minadeo’s record label Patternbased and Dave Ignizio’s Square Records produced Novos Akros, a soundtrack created not just for the game, but for a fictional film based off of the game. The compilation of local bands was released on CD for Record Store Day on April 21, 2012 and has since sold out, but streaming and downloadable versions are still available online.
Harvey Firestone Statue
1659 South Main Street
Few names are as synonymous with Akron and the rubber industry as Harvey Firestone. The Ohio native founded the tire company that bore his name in 1900 at the age of 32 and over several decades developed it into what would become a multi-billion dollar corporation. Firestone lived most of his life in Akron, but passed away in Florida in 1938.
In 1950 Firestone Tire and Rubber decided to celebrate their fiftieth anniversary by creating and dedicating a large statue of their founder on the company’s campus. The imposing bronze sculpture, which sits in a beautiful memorial rotunda, would make a great Interesting Akron post on its own, but a 2000 Beacon Journal article by David Giffels revealed it secret origin and cemented its place in local lore.
Firestone Engineer John Moore hired artist James Earle Fraser to create the monument in his Rhode Island foundry. As the dedication ceremony approached Moore discovered that Fraser wasn’t going to complete his work in time. Fraser offered one solution: Create a plaster replica of the statue using the original cast and paint it bronze.
On August 3, 1950 the statue was unveiled to the Firestone family, employees, photojournalists (including one from Life Magazine), and hundreds of attendees. Luckily the event was a success and no one questioned the figure’s authenticity. When the final artwork was complete the memorial site was covered with a tent and the bronze was put in its rightful place. Moore kept the head of the plaster replica for many years, but eventually decided to destroy it and discard the remains.
More than sixty years later Firestone’s likeness still casts its gaze on the entrance of what is now the Bridgestone tech center. It can be seen at a distance from Main Street but the best view is from the Bridgestone Parking lot.
Thank you to everyone who voted to make Interesting Akron the “Best Local Blog” in the July 2012 issue of Akron Life Magazine. I’m glad so many of you have been enjoying the posts because they are a lot of fun to write. I’ll have a new article for you this Sunday! Thanks again!
1745 Goodyear Boulevard
At one time Akron had dozens of glowing marquees gracing the entrances of classic single-screen cinemas. Regrettably television and multiplexes took over and most of their lights have dimmed. Fortunately the Linda Theatre in Goodyear Heights is one exception.
The Linda was built in 1948 by Ernest Alessio and designed by his sons Lino and Reno, who, at the time, were both under the age of 22. As Lino explained to the Beacon Journal, he was going to hire an architect, but, “He wanted a fortune for the job, so I decided to just design it myself.”
The theater was named after the youngest of the Alessio family, Linda, who was kind enough to submit her memories of the November 18, 1948 opening and more to Interesting Akron:
I remember the grand opening. I was six years old and I wore a white rabbit coat with white rabbit hand muffs. I thought I was a star because my name was up in lights. Roy Rogers came to the opening and I got to sit on his lap, which also made me feel very important.
As I got older I worked at the theater and made popcorn and served at the counter. Later I was an usherette and seated people in the theater. I also carried a flashlight and if I caught a boy kissing a girl I would flash my light on them.
When the theater celebrated it’s 60th birthday, I took my grandchildren through the theater and shared the history with them. My father built the theater as he was Alessio Construction and named the theater after me. My oldest surviving brother, Reno Alessio, managed the theater for years.
Lino Alessio would go on to build numerous other structures in Akron, including the Akron Federal Building, the Main Public Library (not the current library, but the previous one), and several buildings for the University of Akron.
In 2008 Highland Square-based artist Brian Parsons designed and painted a series of murals on the front wall of the Linda depicting locations and individuals from the Goodyear Heights area throughout the Twentieth Century. (Please see images above)
Fortunately the Linda’s marque still illuminates Goodyear Boulevard each day and is currently exhibiting first run features for only $5. Show times can be found on their Facebook page and on Yahoo’s movie site.
The Akron Symphony Orchestra began in 1949 when the business manager of the Akron Beacon Journal made a $500 donation to help create a classical music organization. In the following decades the Orchestra has released only a handful or recordings, one of the earliest of which is this double-LP set of a December 1960 performance of King David based on the 1921 oratorio Le roi David by composer Arthur Honegger.
So why record this specific performance? Stage and screen star Sir Basil Rathbone had agreed to narrate the show and serve as MC. Rathbone was well-known for his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes in a variety of feature films, radio shows, TV programs, and live stage appearances. His voice was distinguished and highly recognizable, so it’s no wonder the Orchestra wanted to preserve this evening on wax.
When Rathbone arrived in Akron on December 5th he was honored with a luncheon at the Akron City Club hosted by the Akron Symphony Women’s Committee. He posed for photos, signed autographs, and discussed his most famous roles and future Hollywood plans with the Beacon Journal.
The next evening Akronites packed the Akron Armory for the recorded performance. Lenough Anderson conducted the Orchestra and the Akron Symphony Chorus was led by three soloists.
While there are two separate LPs of the recording, both share the same cover design and a sticker was added to differentiate between the two volumes. In my fifteen years of picking through records at thrift stores I have only come across these albums once.
I have digitized both records, but have only posted an MP3 of the first portion to this blog. If you have any other Akron-related recording you would like to share, please let me know!
The Bomb Shelter
923 Bank Street
For years I used to travel to Cleveland for the bulk of my vintage goods, but we finally have one in Akron. The Bomb Shelter has furniture, board games, dishes, magazines, records, posters, and even motorcycles crammed into a 12,000 square foot space. Even if you’re not in the mood for buying, take some time to stop by and peruse the variety of Akron-related antiques and collectibles.
886 Canton Rd.
Akron is known for it’s burgers, as you can tell from the many previous posts on this site. You can try the NiteMare, the SkyHi, or the Galley Boy. Is there possibly a contender? Please consider the gargantuan Monsterburger served at Sue’s Diner.
This one pound beef behemoth is so big that the restaurant bakes their own buns because they can’t purchase them in the appropriate size. The massive patty sits on a bed of lettuce and onion and is adorned with several slices of cheese, sweet ham, and “Monster Sauce.”
This blogger couldn’t finish it on his own and, considering its size, it’s a good deal at $8.99.
The menu doesn’t end there. You can also tackle the Hot Italian Monster, loaded with salami, pepperoni, bologna, ham, lettuce, onion, and Italian dressing.
Looking for a taste of old Akron? Sue’s has the Thacker Burger, based off of the recipe from Thacker’s Restaurant, which existed from the 1920s to the 1980s on East Market near Goodyear’s headquarters. It has loads of onions, dill pickle, and mustard, but, like Hamburger Station, they hold the catsup.
If you’re hungry for a little more and still have some Lipitor left, get a Mini Monster for the ride home.
Please call for hours.
I’m sorry Interesting Akron has been out of commission over the past few months. My wife and I had a baby in October and it has been a little difficult for me to get out of the house lately. My goal is to return to the regularly scheduled biweekly updates. This entry may be a little sparse, but I hope to punch it up a little more in the future.
Thanks for reading!
La Loma Supermarket
421 Darrow Rd.
La Loma’s Facebook page
Akron has a few tiny Mexican and South American shops, but La Loma is the only one that is dubbed a “supermarket.” They have large bins full of fresh fruits and vegetables, prepackaged snacks and candies, a full bakery, deli, meats, and more. Special items, such as a Tres Leches cake can be ordered a few days in advance. The entire store is very colorful and filled with fluffy piñatas and religious iconography. Adjacent to the market is Taqueria La Loma, which serves hot foods out of a truck trailer. You can read more about the Taqueria on the blog Exploring Food My Way.